Interview – Christopher De La Rosa (Hunters Books)

Hunters Books is the publisher of Outbreak: Undead, the Zombie Survival RPG.

Starting off with a more personal question, Hunters Books was founded in 1999 to bring knowledge of the upcoming zombie apocalypse to the masses. So what keeps you going? What keeps you enthusiastic about working in the RPG industry?

What keeps us excited about gaming is that it’s still very much an open frontier. True, there are heavy hitters that produce some outstanding games, but there is still room for a tremendous amount of creativity that isn’t bogged down with the concern of trying to appeal to as many people as possible. Instead, as an industry, we can appeal very specifically to any number of varied tastes. And at the end of the day, it means a lot more to us as developers to create something that a small, but growing group enjoy deeply as opposed to having a lot of people taking a passive, superficial interest in what it is that we do. It’s really about the quality of fan that the game industry attracts that keeps us interested as developers.

Earlier this year, Outbreak: Undead won a Judge’s Spotlight Awards. What did you think of the ENnies when you found this out?

We thought people were kidding at first when we were told we won, but as the day progressed, we were congratulated by other developers and we had this moment of “wait, we actually won something?” And it was a tremendous feeling. We assumed that the ENnies were an award that was beyond our small operation to attain at this point in our career, especially considering the caliber of games we have as competition. That we were selected despite the quality and volume of competition really did highlight that the ENnies pays close attention to the games that are given to them to review. So obviously, we think very highly of the ENnies in general if we assumed we’d be outclassed in every category and were selected regardless. It shows that the ENnies care about giving each entry their due attention, which means an awful lot to us and speaks well of the meaning of the award itself.

Did the win affect short-term sales? How about long-term sales?

I think it’s too early to factor in long term sales, but in the short term, we’ve had at least one distributor let us know that upon announcing that we won to the stores he does business with, that he sold out of his stock in 2 days. That’s a case study, obviously, but it’s a pretty dramatic one.

What projects do you have on the schedule; anything you can talk about?

Absolutely. We announced that Outbreak: Wild Kingdom and Outbreak: Deep Space as being our next two releases. Outbreak: Wild Kingdom is our animal/wilderness supplement to Outbreak: Undead and Outbreak: Deep Space adds a very in-depth sci-fi setting to potential Outbreak Scenarios. They both feature a ton of new options for players and GMs who run the games and we had a lot of fun designing them. Both were very thoroughly researched and have been exceptionally well received by our beta testers, so we have high hopes for them. We have some other projects to follow up with, but they’re a little to early in development to go into too much detail about at this time.

Now that we’ve been around for over a decade, what do the ENnies mean to you both personally and professionally?

I think the 10 year lifespan of the ENnies shows that they have established themselves as being the authority in what is new and exciting in the game industry. The judges are wisely selected industry professionals and avid gamers themselves, so their judgment is clearly to be trusted and respected.

Last question; if someone who had never heard of the ENnie Awards walked up to you today and asked, “So what are these ‘ENnies’ you keep talking about,” how would you answer them?

I would tell them what I mentioned earlier: The ENnies are the final word in what’s new and exciting in the game industry.

For more information about Outbreak: Undead, visit their website at outbreakundead.com.

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